Currently, binge eating disorder (BED) is not recognized as its own eating disorder by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which is used to diagnose psychiatric and psychological disorders. However, the DSM-IVTR is being revised and a new version will be released in the not too distant future (scheduled for 2012). In that version, BED will be recognized as its own disorder, rather than an 'eating disorder not otherwise specified' ('ednos'), as it is characterized now. Among eating disorder professionals however, binge eating disorder is certainly treated as a disorder in its own category.
How do you know if you suffer from binge eating disorder? Let's first define a 'binge.' Some people will say they binge, but when it comes to eating disorders, a binge can be relative in the eye of the beholder. Someone with anorexia might define a binge as two servings of crackers. That is not a binge. A binge is when one consumes an unusually large amount of food in a discrete period of time. Below are the criteria which define BED:
- Recurrent binge eating
- Binge eating episodes include 3 out of the 5 following behavioral characteristics: guilty, depressed, disgusted after eating; eating large amounts of food without being hungry; solo eating episodes/secret or hidden eating; very rapid eating; eating to the point of physical discomfort.
- Significant distress about binge eating
- Binge eating episodes at least 2 days a week, over the course of 6 months
- You do not meet the criteria for anorexia or bulimia, and there are no regular or consistent compensatory behaviors (purging of any kind)
- source: Carlos M. Grilo. Eating and Weight Disorders. Psychology Press, NY: 2006.
If you do not meet the above criteria, it does not mean you do not struggle with binge eating. It also does not mean you don't have an eating disorder, or struggle with disordered eating. Any patterns with food that cause you distress and that are unhealthy are significant and need to be addressed! If any of these behaviors sound like you, I would encourage you to consider talking with someone. You can live and walk in freedom from food, and it doesn't have to take over your life! If you do not know where to start, there are resources available. If you have questions or concerns, feel free to shoot me an email- MeredithStokkeNCC@gmail.com. Also, check out the Binge Eating Disorder Association here!